Hiking Stehekin

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Hiking Day One

goat. Sky View. Lake View.

Six of the Durango Stehekin Trekkers brought mountain bikes, and though the bikes did prove useful and fun to have, there are no mountain bike trails in the Stehekin Valley. It is no bike-friendly Moab. The Valley Road is a fun ride, but it's not a trail. The National Park Service forbids any bikeriding off-road. They are very strict about this. Our first day in Stehekin we rode our bikes to the bakery, then up the road a bit further to Harlequin Creek. On the way back, Cleo spotted a waterfall. It turned out to be Stehekin's noted landmark, Rainbow Falls! We had pedaled our bikes right by it. Rainbow Falls is just a short distance off the Valley Road, and then a short hike from the bike-ban zone.

Rainbow Falls.

As we got back on our bikes to ride out of Rainbow Falls, the tour bus pulled in, the driver got out (we would become quite familiar with this driver in the coming days). He told us how to get to an abandoned orchard, with a lot of apples, and a lot of apple eating bears. Buckner Orchard. The hike into Buckner Orchard was along an old irrigation stream. About a quarter mile in we saw apple trees, and then moving trees, and then a little black thing falling out of a tree, a little baby bear. His (or her) mama was up on the top branches, shaking loose apples.

Lakeshore Hike.

Cleo leads the way along the Lakeshore Trail.
We are all looking for Clarence...

Hiking Day Two

Late Monday morning, after a good night's rest to recover from the frenetic day prior, when we all had to rush to catch the boat, all were feeling fine, except Durango, who had wrenched his back carrying the heavy load of someone's excessive luggage. Despite his excruciating pain, Durango joined everyone on a hike on the Lakeshore Trail. The trail is very well built, with great views of Lake Chelan, a lake which resembles Utah's Lake Powell in its stunning clarity and deep blueness.

We hiked the Lakeshore Trail for many miles. The trail begins at Stehekin Landing and traverses the edge of the lake, 17 miles to Prince Creek. Some Stehekin visitors are dropped off at Prince Creek and hike the Lakeshore Trail into Stehekin. At warmer times of the year rattlesnakes must be avoided if they happen to be sunning themselves. We saw no rattlesnakes. Not this day. The rattlesnake happened later.

Durango Hiking.
Durango beats a stick
to enforce a steady
marching cadence...



Hiking Day Three

Clarence had been pushing for a mega-hike. Keith and Prissy wanted nothing to do with that. Durango's back hurt. Wanda just wanted to relax. So Wally, Eddie, Clarence and Cleo took off, with Purple Pass as their destination. Durango and Wanda sat around enjoying our morning bakery assortment. And then the carbo-loading energized even our slothness. We decided to hike the Imus Creek Nature Trail after Prissy came back and gave us a glowing report. And after she told us that Keith had followed the main hikers up the Purple Pass Trail!

Prissy guided Wanda and Durango towards the Imus Creek Trailhead. Part way there, we met Keith walking quite jauntily down the road. He had hiked several miles up the Purple Pass Trail, but finally it got too steep. Prissy went back to the Lodge with Keith, leaving Durango and Wanda on their own to hike the demanding Imus Creek Trail.

Cleo on Trail.
Cleo looks fetching in her hiking togs midway up the Purple Pass Trail. It is a very steep trail. 8 miles with over 5000 feet elevation gain!

Durango Guide. High above Lake Chelan on the Imus Creek Nature Trail Durango conducts a Nature Seminar for all who would listen...

Purple Pass Summit.

A group portrait
at the Summit of Purple Pass
Wanda and Durango were quite sure the Purple Pass hikers would not make it back to Stehekin in time to catch that night's bus to the Stehekin Valley Ranch. But it was known the hikers were strongly motivated to hike fast, because this was our last dinner, and the Courtney women were fixin' to make lasagna.

Do not attempt a hike, such as this, without first consulting your doctor. Or, better yet, take your doctor with you on the hike. Better yet, take two doctors. And make sure one of them has a syringe with Ephedrine in it, in case of an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

Ed and Jennifer at Summit.
Eddie with an unidentified female
at the Purple Pass Summit


Eddie, Cleo and Clarence sat at the summit for awhile when they heard the sounds of anguished moaning and groaning, and then Wally came into view...

The hikers reached Purple Pass Summit about 2:30. They had to be back at Stehekin Landing by 5:15 to make the dinner bus. Wanda and Durango were certain they would not make it. We decided we would go to the Stehekin Valley Ranch for lasagna and not worry about the hikers. At ten minutes before 5, Eddie showed up. He had been running, he said the others were, maybe, a mile back. Eddie seemed a bit delirious. He told us to hold the bus. As if we could. Or would. He also told us that Cleo had stepped on a Rattlesnake. At one point on the steep climb down she thought she stepped on a stick, then the stick moved, then she realized it was a snake! It was not very big, and because of the cold temperatures the snake moved slowly. It slithered off the trail, turning to look at the startled hikers and to shake it's rattle.

After hearing about the Rattler we were a bit concerned regarding the safety of the unreturned hikers. Then Clarence showed up, without Cleo. Much umbrage was heaped upon Clarence for his callous abandonment of Cleo. Then Wally staggered in. It was 5 minutes til the bus would leave. Wally did not have the strength to make it to his room to change clothes. He splashed some water on his face and crawled on the bus.

Finally Cleo showed up, staggering like a punch drunk fighter. Prissy and Eddie ran up the hill to help Cleo. She collapsed once she had their support. Eventually we got Cleo placed on the bus, for the ride to the Stehekin Valley Ranch, where we did not make reservations.

Cleo Obscene Gesture.
Hike Stricken Cleo is helped by Eddie and Prissy, Cleo's tongue hanging out like a rabid dog, or maybe it was sticking out because her middle fingers were occupied.

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